OE6

New York State of Health just became the 6th State-Based Exchange (SBE) to officially surpass last year's final Open Enrollment Period total:

Press Release: NY State of Health Announces Qualified Health Plan Enrollment Tops January 31, 2018 Level
Jan 4, 2019

  • Still Time to Enroll
  • Consumer Demand for Affordable Coverage is High

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 4, 2019) - NY State of Health, New York’s official health plan Marketplace, today announced that as of January 1, 2019 more than 254,000 New Yorkers have enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan (QHP). With less than one month to go in the 2019 Open Enrollment Period, the number of QHP enrollees has already exceeded QHP enrollment at the end of the 2018 Open Enrollment Period.

Minnesota's ACA exchange, MNsure, last reported having enrolled over 113,000 people in Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) as of the first December 15th deadline, putting them just 3,300 enrollees behind last year's final total of 116,358 QHPs.

However, MN is one of the states sticking with an extended deadline this year, which means their 2019 Open Enrollment Period is still going on through January 13th...and they just reported having broken last year's total with 11 days remaining for Minnesotans to #GetCovered:

There is Still Time to Get Covered—MNsure's Open Enrollment Period Ends January 13
January 3, 2019

It's been pretty obvious for the past two years that the states which fully control their own ACA exchanges (including their own marketing and outreach budgets and their own exchange website platform) seem to be outperforming the states hosted by the federal exchange, HealthCare.Gov, in terms of open enrollment numbers year after year.

However, this can be a bit tricky to compare because some of the states have shifted back and forth...four states which ran their own platform for the first one to three years (Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada and Oregon) moved home to the mothership in later years, while one state (Idaho) did the reverse--they stuck with HC.gov for 2014 but then broke off onto their own platform after that.

Yeesh...when it rains, it pours! Right on top of updated and/or final 2019 Open Enrollment numbers 41 states (Idaho, Rhode Island and the 39 states hosted by HealthCare.Gov) comes yet another updated tally from Massachusetts:

As of today:

  • 274,317 enrollments for January
  • 2,997 enrollments for February or March
  • 3,763 plans selected (1st premium not paid but not due yet)
  • 281,077 total

Retention rate is 91 percent, up 2.6 percent from last year.

The total is only 252 higher than their last update as of December 17th, but that's not surprising considering that we had both Christmas and New Year's in between. Again, MA has managed to improve their enrollment number every year for 5 years straight, an impressive feat indeed!

Again, Massachusetts' total from last year was 267,260 QHP selections, which means they're now 5.2% ahead of last year's final number...with 3 weeks left to go!

 

As I warned back on December 19th when CMS released the Week 7 HealthCare.Gov Enrollment Snapshot Report, the final, official enrollment tally for the 2019 Open Enrollment Period was almost certain to end up slightly lower than the Week 7 cumulative numbers indicated. There are several reasons for this: Some people who were auto-renewed contact HC.gov to cancel their 2019 renewals, while others had their enrollments involuntarily denied or otherwise cancelled due to problems with verifying their identity, address or legal residency status.

Last year around 79,000 QHP selections were dropped in the final report; I expected this to be slightly lower, at around 75,000. I'm pleased to report, however, that according to CMS, only around 43,000 people were scrubbed from the 39 states hosted by HealthCare.Gov this year:

Final Weekly Enrollment Snapshot for the 2019 Enrollment Period

Rhode Island may be a tiny state, but they just became the 11th state to officially surpass their 2018 Open Enrollment Period total, and the 4th state-based exchange to officially do so...when they still had one day left to go:

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Islanders have just a few hours left to obtain health insurance through the state.

The deadline to sign up for and renew coverage for 2019 is Monday, Dec. 31.

The state's health insurance marketplace, HealthSource RI, plans to keep its call and walk-in center open until 7 p.m. Monday.

The center is located at 401 Wampanoag Trail in East Providence and the hotline is 1-855-840-4774.

Rhode Islanders have until midnight Monday to sign up for coverage online through HealthSource RI's website.

"Enrollment is up from last year, which we're very excited about, so that to us is a sign that the ACA is working in Rhode Island, and everybody is understanding the value of having health coverage," HealthSource RI COO Meg Ivatts said.

Now that I've brought everyone up to speed about my disappearing act, it's time to delve back into the ACA & healthcare developments of the past few weeks. There've been quite a few to talk about, but for now I'll just focus on updating the OE6 enrollment books a bit...starting with one of the two states which, until now, hasn't provided any 2019 enrollment data: Idaho.

According to this press release from December 28th, Your Health Idaho, their ACA exchange, not only surpassed last year's enrollment total of 94,507 QHP selections by over 9%, they managed to break their all-time enrollment record of 101,073 set back in 2016:

More than 103,000 Idahoans Enroll in Health Insurance for the 2019 Plan Year

OK, with the big Week 7 HC.gov Report having been released, I can now fill in most of the blanks for the 2019 Open Enrollment Period: A grand total of 11.16 million QHP selections nationally so far. That includes 8.45 million on the federal exchange, plus another 2.7 million on the 12 state-based exchanges. If the counting were to stop right here, the total would be almost exactly 5% lower than last year, which would actually be pretty good all things considered.

HOWEVER, it isn't over yet. Eight of the state-based exchanges have enrollment deadlines past 12/15/18, with two of them stretching out as late as January 31st. In addition, most residents of Alaska are still eligible, as is anyone in Washington State or Vermont who had problems on the 15th (see link for details).

Here's what it looks like as of right now:

That figures...after waiting for this report to be released for like 3 hours earlier today, it just figures that it would be released right after I had to go pick my kid up from school...updating post as quickly as possible...refresh for updates...

NOTE: Last year CMS modified the official QHP selection total downwards by around 79,000 enrollees the week after the Week 7 report was released for various reason, mostly due to people making last-minute cancellations to their renewals or having their enrollment applications denied due to problems with legal residency verification or other data matching problems.

Huh. I mentioned this the other day, but apparently it's a bigger thing than I thought:

Limited Time Special Enrollment Period for 2019 Coverage
Posted on: December 17, 2018

Did you hit a snag trying to enroll in 2019 coverage during open enrollment? The Health Benefit Exchange is offering a special enrollment for individuals who were not able to enroll before the end of Open Enrollment.

You still have the chance to enroll in 2019 coverage

In light of this year’s shortened open enrollment period along with other barriers, you still have the chance to enroll in 2019 coverage. If you were unable to select a plan before the close of open enrollment and you would like to enroll in a 2019 plan, contact Customer Support (1-855-923-4633) no later than December 20, 2018! Once you have contacted Customer Support, you will have until December 28, 2018 to select a plan. Plans will still be effective on January 1, 2019.

Earlier today, no fewer than six of the state-based exchanges released their latest numbers: Official 2019 Open Enrollment totals through December 15th. In two cases (Maryland and Washington State), this also counts as their final tally, although the final number may increase slightly more as a few hundred "in line by midnight" enrollees are tacked on.

The other four states (Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York) gave what amounts to a "mid-season report", since all four still have anywhere from four to six weeks left for people to #GetCovered.

Missing from today's updates were final (or any) numbers for Idaho or Vermont, both of which also closed up shop on Saturday (Vermont is still letting a handful of people who had problems enrolling sign up for another few days, but this will likely amount to only a few hundred at most given the tiny population of the state). Also missing were more recent updates for California, Connecticut, DC or Rhode Island.

This isn't an official update, but it's all I have for now. Back on November 29th, the Providence Business News reported that HealthSourceRI, Rhode Island's ACA exchange, was reporting 31,000 QHP selections (including auto-renewals).

Saturday, in response to the insane #TexasFoldEm judicial ruling, RI Governor Gina Raimondo was quoted for a response; the article at WPRI.com states that:

More than 32,000 people have signed up so far for coverage beginning January 2019, according to HealthSource RI.  

"This does not change anything about coverage people currently access through HealthSource RI, nor does it change our current open enrollment period," Sherman said.

Sherman encourages those who need health insurance to sign up before open enrollment ends.  You have until December 31st, although officials recommend you sign up before the 23rd.

Connecticut was originally supposed to end their 2019 Open Enrollment Period on Saturday, December 15th along with most other states. However, on Saturday afternoon, just hours before the midnight deadline, they announced that they were bumping out the final deadline by a full month, through January 15th, to coincide with California and Colorado. This was done mostly in response to the mass confusion and fear which spread rapidly on Friday night and all day Saturday as people heard about the ruling in the #TexasFoldEm lawsuit.

It's probably just as well that they did that, because according to this article in Hartford Business, Access Health CT was down about 10% from last year:

As of Friday, the day of the Texas court ruling and one day before the original enrollment deadline, Access Health was reporting 102,412 enrollees in non-Medicaid health plans offered on the exchange.

This makes the sixth state-based exchange in a row to post their 12/15 enrollment totals this afternoon...and it's the FIRST report of any sort to come out of Maryland. Fortunately, the news is quite good:

NEARLY 157,000 MARYLANDERS ENROLLED THROUGH MARYLAND HEALTH CONNECTION FOR 2019

Enrollments both on and off exchange exceeded estimates for how ‘reinsurance’ would stabilize Maryland’s individual insurance market

Oooh...now that's a treat for a data wonk like me...official off-exchange data is difficult to come by in most states...

BALTIMORE (DEC. 17, 2018) – A total of 156,963 Marylanders enrolled in private health coverage for 2019 during the open enrollment that concluded Saturday on Maryland Health Connection, the state-based health insurance marketplace.

(sigh) Drat. The state-based exchange enrollment reports keep on rolling, but I'm afraid the streak of outperforming last year's numbers has come to a screeching halt in Washington State:

Washington Healthplanfinder Sign-Ups Surge Past 222,000 In Strong Final Weekend
More than 11,000 plans selected during open enrollment’s closing hours, additional sign-ups expected this week

December 17, 2018

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that a total of 222,636 customers selected a 2019 health plan through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s online health insurance marketplace, by last Saturday’s midnight deadline to enroll. The total number of plan selections is only slightly lower than the 242,000 sign-ups posted during the 2018 open enrollment period that stretched one month longer.

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